The Cincinnati Bengals own the 28th overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. After that, they have just six more picks to go. There are many ways these picks can go, of course, but they could surely use more depth on their roster. Here we’ll look at three bold predictions for the Bengals in the 2023 NFL Draft, including drafting Darnell Wright.
Last season, the Bengals won the AFC North with a 12-4 record. However, they were unable to defeat the Kansas City Chiefs on the road and were defeated in the AFC Championship Game. That said, the Bengals have already made some intriguing free-agent moves in order to maintain their lead in the division in 2023.
There are only several days left till the 2023 NFL Draft. The Bengals will choose near the end of the first round for the second consecutive edition. In the first round, they must again look at positions such as offensive line. Unlike last year’s draft class, this year’s rookies may need to come in and play significant snaps right away after the team suffered significant free-agent losses. Aside from the offensive line, other positions in need of depth include tight end, pass-rusher, and cornerback.
The majority of the Cincinnati secondary left in free agency, creating gaps at both safety positions. They already addressed some offensive line weaknesses in free agency, but they could still need more depth. Otherwise, their club requires EDGE assistance, tight end, cornerback, and a backup running back heading into the 2023 NFL Draft.
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Let’s look at three bold predictions for the Bengals in the draft.
1. Bengals draft WR Darnell Wright to improve their offensive line
Despite efforts by the Bengals to improve their offensive line before of the 2022 season, quarterback Joe Burrow was sacked 41 times. This ranked sixth in the NFL.
The Bengals had an optimal offensive line plan after signing Orlando Brown Jr., with Brown at left tackle and Jonah Williams moving to the right. However, Williams has requested a trade, disrupting the plan. In this mock draft, assuming Williams is traded, Darnell Wright would be an ideal replacement. Wright is a pro-ready tackle who has experience playing on the right side in college. This would allow him to make an immediate impact. He exhibited outstanding performance last season, allowing no sacks and only eight total pressures in 507 pass-blocking snaps. In addition to his impressive pass game skills, he is quick off the line and athletic. This allows him to get to the second level quickly in the run game.
Again, Wright is a suitable candidate due to his excellent performance in Tennessee. He even outperformed prominent college football pass-rushers like Will Anderson from Alabama. Take note that he has experience playing both right and left tackle. He also excels in pass protection on either side while overpowering defenders in the running game. This makes him particularly valuable on the right side of the field. In the 2022 season, Wright allowed only six quarterback hurries and no sacks, indicating his effectiveness as a blocker.
2. Bengals add to receiver corps depth
The Bengals have a vacancy at tight end, but it may be wiser to wait until the second round of the draft rather than using a first-round pick. The draft is deep in talented tight ends. This means that there should be many quality players available at pick No. 60. It’s worth noting that despite the position’s depth, NFL teams tend to be cautious about using high picks on tight ends. Remember that only one was selected in the top 54 picks in each of the last three drafts.
One potential tight end the Bengals could consider is Darnell Washington. He was highly regarded as one of the country’s top players when he finished high school and is a solid in-line blocker. This makes him a valuable asset on running downs. Washington uses both gap and zone-blocking techniques and shows great promise as a pass-catcher.
You remember that kid in 7th grade who was just laughably bigger than everyone else, making him the first pick at recess regardless of sport?
I get that same feeling when watching Darnell Washington pic.twitter.com/zebU07E3JA
— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) April 16, 2023
In the fifth round, the Bengals could also shore up their wideouts by selecting Elijah Higgins from Stanford. Despite playing for an underwhelming team, he is a physically gifted wide receiver who can create mismatches. Higgins has not yet produced at a high level. However, with time and proper usage, he could become a promising prospect. Like AJ Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster, or Allen Lazard, Higgins could be used in various positions. Of course, he will need time to develop.
3. Bengals select a pair of defensive backs
The Bengals should consider selecting Clark Phillips. He is a talented cornerback from Utah, with the 92nd overall pick in the draft. Despite having the potential to be chosen early on Day 2, his height of 5’9″ may cause him to fall in the draft. However, Phillips could be a good fit for the Bengals’ defense. It is also worth noting that the team met with him at the combine.
As for the 206th overall pick in the 6th round, Ventrell Miller, a linebacker from Florida, would be an excellent choice for the Bengals. Miller has been an essential contributor to the Florida defense for several seasons and has displayed impressive football knowledge and instincts. He is also skilled in pass coverage, particularly in a zone defense.
By selecting both of these defensive backs, the Bengals could plug some holes in their defensive secondary.
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